Amendment 28 Fact Sheet

Red Snapper Reallocation

Posted on August 13, 2015

Amendment 28 – Red Snapper Reallocation

  • Coastal Conservation Association believes there is a real need to address a long-standing wrong in the red snapper fishery – the allocation has never been set correctly.
  • The data used in the original allocation was from the earliest years (1979-1986) of the then newly created Marine Recreational Fishing Statistic Survey (MRFSS), which is arguably the least accurate in the time series.
  • Additionally, the red snapper stock size was at or near historic low levels of abundance during that time period. The allocation was set at a time when recreational effort was likely at an extremely low level.
  • The latest stock assessment began to address some of these problems, and it resulted in increases in recreational catch that when fed into the assessment created a larger Annual Catch Limit (ACL).
  • During a recalibration process, the new recreational data system - Marine Recreational Information Program (MRIP) - re-examined how angler catch data was being surveyed and determined that there had been mistakes in the methodology. These mistakes were corrected, and when new estimates were produced, it became apparent the old MRFSS data back to the early 1980s was incorrect.
  • It also became clear that recreational fishermen in the Gulf were catching larger red snapper. The stock assessment scientists changed the average size red snapper fishermen were catching for use in the projecting stock size and thus the ACL.
  • These two changes are primarily responsible for the current increase in the ACL for the red snapper fishery, and therefore should be allocated to the recreational fishery.
  • In addition to addressing the results derived from flawed survey data, there are economic arguments that the Council should consider as well. The National Marine Fisheries Service has found that the value of a recreational fish is substantially higher than a commercial fish, indicating that the current allocation is economically inefficient.
  • The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council can best begin to address all of these problems by adopting Alternative 9 in Amendment 28.
  • However, there has been a sustained misinformation campaign waged by the commercial sector and some in the restaurant industry to imply that reallocating red snapper would devastate those sectors.
  • The truth is that if the council reallocated today based on the preferred alternative in Amendment 28, the commercial quota would go down to 6.951 million pounds (48.5% of 14.3 million pounds). Last year's commercial quota was only 5.61 million pounds. If reallocation occurred today, the commercial quota would still be 1.34 million pounds greater than the 2014 commercial quota.
  • Claims that reallocation will threaten the commercial sector and the restaurant industry are complete fiction, and these scare tactics are intended to intimidate fishery managers into inaction.
  •  Alternative 9 is the best solution to address the current allocation problem in the Gulf red snapper fishery. Setting the allocation properly will, at long last, set a foundation for potentially fair management of the recreational sector going forward. CCA urges the Council to adopt it.

Click HERE to see our Snapper Reallocation Briefing Document